One Wisconsin Family Wants Huffing to Be Illegal

By: Natalie Swaby
By: Natalie Swaby

With a shake of the can and deep breaths into a bag, it happens, one of the most dangerous kinds of high. The act known as huffing is portrayed in the movie "Citizen Ruth," and at a grave site in Sister Bay, Wisconsin.

"It is so hard to believe," says Amie Kissel as she looks at her brother, Aaron Wake's grave.

Four years after his death, Kissel now knows how fast her brother was living. It was a quick high that cost him his life. Now in his memory his family wants to tell others the truth about huffing.

"They are inhaling the fumes, they use propane, they use gasoline," tells Kissel.

Despite the dangers and warnings, kids and adults like Aaron Wake, try it.

"I had no idea that he was experimenting with huffing," says Laurel Culp, Wake's mother. "If I didn't know about it, how many other parents don't know about it."

One reason it might be difficult for parents to detect is because the high can be found in common items like markers or glue, all things you can pick up at your grocery store.

Dr. Jeffrey Schiffman of Connections Counseling explains, "it tends to be used a lot by kids. It is easy to get a hold of, they get introduced to it by other kids in school, and it is just a cheap way to get high."

But it is also a quick way to do lots of harm.

"It is so detrimental to so many different organ systems in the body that anything is possible," warns Dr. Schiffman.

The are lots of results from huffing, like liver cancer, kidney failure, brain damage, or death.

"It is like Russian roulette, it can kill the first, the tenth, the hundredth time," says Culp.

Aaron Wake's family is trying to get information about the dangers of huffing into Wisconsin schools, and they support the bill trying to make the substance abuse illegal. That bill now moves to the state senate, and if it becomes law it would make huffing a misdemeanor crime and dealing hazardous substances for huffing a felony.

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